BlackBerry shakes up its executive ranks as operational changes sweep company

WATERLOO, Ont. – The executive offices at BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB) are undergoing major changes as the smartphone maker announced Monday that chief operating officer Kristian Tear and chief marketing officer Frank Boulben are leaving.

Both joined the smartphone maker in mid-2012 in the buildup to the release of the new BlackBerry smartphones, which have seen sales fizzle.

The company did not immediately announce plans to replace the positions.

Also, chief financial officer Brian Bidulka will be replaced by James Yersh, who has been with the company since 2008, and board member Roger Martin has resigned.

The changes come as BlackBerry reworks its operations in an effort to reduce costs and downsize amid deepened financial losses.

During the past few months, the company has announced that it will lay off 40 per cent of its staff, or about 4,500 employees, and change its executive ranks.

BlackBerry recently hired John Chen as interim CEO and executive chairman to oversee the changes, taking over from ousted CEO Thorsten Heins.

“BlackBerry has a strong cash position and continues, by a significant margin, to be the top provider of trusted and secure mobile device management solutions to enterprise customers around the world,” Chen said in a release.

“I will continue to align my senior management team and organizational structure, and refine the company’s strategy to ensure we deliver the best devices, mobile security and device management.”

Boulben was behind the campaign for the new BlackBerry phones, which included a pricey 30-second spot during the SuperBowl, and a series of other television spots that some critics complained undersold the smartphone’s features.